Transition Ranch 2017

Some of you have been asking “why is the ranch called “Transition Ranch”.  Well, it sits in an ecological transition zone between the Texas hill country, west Texas desert area and the south Texas brush country.  Hence, the name.  It’s the ranch’s location that gives it so much diversity of bird life.

Five photographers joined me in late April for the spring photo tour and I have a couple of their photos to share plus a few I was lucky enough to capture.

Raccoon drinking

This very old raccoon actually had only one eye, so he looked pretty bad.  I added a new left eye to make him presentable…no extra charge for the cosmetic surgery.

Fox Squirrel looking for bird seed.

I photographed this fox squirrel in a perch tree added by the ranch owner at a photo blind (the same location as the raccoon and some of the bird images to follow).

Gulf Fritillary watering on hill country stream.

Butterflies were frequent visitors to the water drip site by one of the “morning” blinds.

Spiny Crevice Lizard sunning.

This sunning Spiny Crevice Lizard looked much better on this perch than a bird would.  Occasionally, sites are fitted with “perches” that are too large and sun-bleached to work well for bird photos.

Oklahoma photographer, Mark Cromwell, spotted this MacGillivray’s Warbler as it drank at the new morning blind.

Mark Cromwell sees things the rest of us miss.  After getting the MacGillivray’s Warbler, he got this shot (below) of a hummingbird bathing on the wing at a water drip.

Hummer bathing in flight at a water drip.
Black-headed Grosbeak juvenile drinking

We got our first Black-headed Grosbeak this year at Transition Ranch.

Lazuli Bunting male drinking

Lazuli Buntings made several appearances this year… a thrilling site for those of us who live east of their range.

Lazuli Bunting male in white brush bush.
Painted Bunting female drinking from limestone creek bottom pool.

Painted Buntings visited all the Transition Ranch blinds this spring.

Well marked Painted Bunting male drinking.
Young and adult Black-throated Sparrow on limb.

Transition Ranch has lots of sparrows in the spring.

Clay-colored Sparrows appeared at the photo blinds along with Black-throated, Olive, White-crowned, Lincoln’s and more.
Blurry Nashville Warbler in flight.

There is seldom enough light to allow the capture of sharp images of warblers in flight, but I liked this blurred shot.

Orange-crowned Warbler landing.
Audubon’s Warbler male on stump.

Yellow-rumped Warblers (Audubon’s in this case) are always beautiful in breeding plumage.

Nashville Warblers were especially abundant this spring at Transition Ranch.
This male Yellow Warbler made my day.
Lesser Goldfinch male eating white brush flowers.
Northern Cardinal flushing from creek bed drink site.
Hen Northern Bobwhite feeding by stump.
Hooded Oriole Male in Texas persimmon tree.
Orchard Oriole, male hopping along a branch.

Orioles are always jumpy and hard to photograph, but we got these plus Scott’s Oriole this year.

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay on log.

I always enjoy capturing a bit of action (like this bird’s foot in the air) to add interest to a photo.

Yellow-breasted Chat perched in thorny habitat.
Immature summer tanager male.
Summer Tanager male in white brush, Transition Ranch.

I hope you get the idea; Transition Ranch has a lot of birds in the spring.


One More Photo Tour This Summer

In mid-August, I’ll be headed back to west Texas for one last instructional photography tour.  Then a new season begins and it will be time to develop a new schedule for 2017-2018.  That west Texas trip will begin in the Christmas Mountains and then we will move a few miles over to the Davis Mountains.  It is all a part of the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration.  This might be a great opportunity to photograph several species of hummers right here in Texas.  Check my website Photo Tour Schedule for details. If you are interested, send me an email and I’ll get you registered and provide the details.  The photo tour will accommodate eight people and only three slots are left.

Here are some photos from the recent trip to the Christmas Mountains Oasis for Lucifer Hummingbirds and other species. Note that some of the images are provided by the participants.

Remember to click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it for better viewing.

Noel Ice’s male Lucifer Hummingbird headed to the camera.
Kimberly Smith’s Christmas Mountains panorama.

Kim captured a Bell’s Vireo eating an insect.
Kimberly’s Blue Grosbeak near the hummingbird feeders at Christmas Mountains Oasis.
Natural light on a male Lucifer Hummingbird by Kimberly Smith.
Gene Forsythe captured an Ash-throated Flycatcher in flight.
Male Lucifer under the lights by Gene Forsythe.
Forsythe captured some interesting lighting on the throat of this Lucifer Hummingbird male.

The following images are mine.  After the fact, I realized I’d missed a lot of good shooting while tending the hummingbird flash setup, but the group got some good diversity in their images.

All of my photos were done with the Canon 1D Mark II, 500 mm Canon Lens, Gitzo 1348 tripod and Wimberly head.

Here are 3 varied bunting images I really liked from my collection:

Male Varied Bunting foraging.
Varied Bunting male in creosote bush
Curious male Varied Bunting.
Rain at sunset, Christmas Mountains, Texas.
Moonrise over Christmas Mountains as vulture passes.
Throat colors on a male Lucifer Hummingbird.
Male Lucifer Hummingbird at Indian Paintbrush.
Lucifer Hummingbird in flight.
Scaled Quail on rocks, Christmas Mountains, Texas.
Why some people call them “blue” quail.
Bell’s Vireo in catclaw bush
Bell’s Vireo singing.
Elf Owl at night near the Terlingua Ranch Lodge.
Elf Owl on perch.

There were many more birds I couldn’t show here, but you should be getting the idea that the Christmas Mountains Oasis is pretty special.  Thanks to all the participating photographers for sharing your images.